2023 ANNUAL PROJECT HEALTH FOR LEON NEWSLETTER
February 13, 2024
Dear PHL friends,
Last year, our group set several records. We organized and executed a total of four medical missions, we saw a total of 370 patients in clinic, we performed 29 catheter-based procedures, and carried out 10 open heart surgeries to treat a wide range of congenital or acquired heart problems. None of this would be possible without the contribution of donors and volunteers. On behalf of PHL, I am deeply thankful for sharing your time, money, and skills with the organization.
In January, Mike Yeung led the first group that evaluated close to 100 patients with heart conditions, with many of them in need of procedures or surgeries to correct their heart conditions. In May, Jeff Brumfield led the second group that evaluated 100 patients and performed 21 procedures, including ablations (procedure to terminate abnormal heart rhythm) and pacemaker or internal defibrillator implants. In September, Mike Yeung returned to Nicaragua to perform catheter-based interventions. A total of eight successful interventions were done. This team also did clinic and performed hundreds of echocardiograms in the clinic — some of them in the OR.
Finally, a multinational team from Spain, Portugal, Malta, and the United States traveled to Leon in November to perform open heart surgery. We partnered with the local health authorities to obtain supplies for surgeries, and the team included a Nicaraguan perfusionist, anesthesiologist, and cardiologist. We were pleased with the active involvement of the local health authorities with our mission. Our team treated a wide range of cardiac problems including congenital, acquired, and valvular heart conditions. We operated on adults, children, elective, and urgent cases.
PHL also sent a container with supplies and equipment to Nicaragua with an estimated value of $56,584. Donations made up much of these items. The equipment included an echocardiogram machine, monitors, defibrillators, and transesophageal and intracardiac probes to perform advanced imaging of the heart. The supplies were used to perform catheter-based interventions and open-heart surgeries.
Supporting the education and training of Nicaraguan health professionals remains one of PHL’s leading missions. Last year, we brought a Nicaraguan cardiologist to North Carolina to do an observership with us. He spent more than a month with us, and he participated in lectures and rounds in the hospital. He also received instructions on interpreting a wide variety of diagnostic cardiac tests, including electrocardiography, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, and coronary angiography. We have plans to support the training of a cardiac perfusionist, physicians, and a cardiovascular technician that will allow the development of a sustainable cardiology program in Nicaragua. Our team will continue to support training and education of those key health professionals to improve the quality of medical care in Nicaragua.
Last year, our dear friend Christine Baumann passed away. She volunteered for PHL as a cardiac sonographer for decades. She answered an advertisement from a sonographer’s magazine to join Dr. Paar on a cardiology mission in Nicaragua. She fell in love with the call to help others and came twice a year for as long as she could. Her love for Nicaragua was so strong that she adopted her daughter from there. Her motto was “If there be any kindness I can show, any good I can do, let me do it now, as I’ll not pass this way again.” She lived to serve others, and taught that everywhere to everyone she met. Our work in Nicaragua is dedicated to her memory.
For 2024, we plan to return to Nicaragua in March to run two clinics and see as many patients as possible. Jeff Brumfield plans to return in May to do clinic and perform procedures to treat heart rhythm problems. In September, we hope to return to perform catheter-based interventions and open-heart surgeries. Our ambitious plan is to perform the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement in a public hospital in Nicaragua. In the future, we would like to have two surgical teams a year working there since the demand for lifesaving operations remains large. We are working on recruiting a second surgical team. We are also working on a research project to detect valvular heart abnormalities using handheld ultrasound devices. This will hopefully allow us to detect at earlier stages valvular heart conditions.
PHL receives no government funding; therefore, our work depends on private donations. Medical equipment, supplies, and shipping are very expensive, so your financial contributions are needed for PHL to continue its mission of helping the people of Nicaragua. We are a 501(C)(3) so your contributions are tax deductible. There are two ways to contribute:
- By check made payable to PHL and mailed to the address found in the letterhead.
- Through our web site using the QR code
We value our volunteers, and if interested, submit the volunteer form on our website. Our volunteers’ documented expenses are also considered a donation to PHL and, therefore, tax deductible. If you would like additional information about serving as a PHL volunteer, please contact at: email@example.com
On behalf of Project Health for Leon, I would like to thank you for your valuable support.
Carlos A. Espinoza, MD, FACP, President